[To New APU Students] A letter to new first-year APU students written from a TA’s perspective

The second quarter at APU is already underway. I hope everyone is going well.I'm Hanako Koda, a third year student.

Unlike Spring in past years, this Spring has been filled with many happenings that have left everyone puzzled, even us. I imagine that incoming students are even more puzzled and anxious than we were. As for me, from the time I entered APU to the end of my first semester, I was nervous and excited about everything. With this blog entry, I would like to leave a message to all new students reading this to help put them at ease, even if only a little bit.

1. Tips for getting over study goals and assignments

Looking back, the first thing I was anxious about was my studies. Where studies are concerned, I think the most important thing is to “get used to and keep up” with them. APU really does have a lot of assignments.

However, if you can manage to keep up with them, things from the second semester onwards become considerably easier. Another thing my senpai (upperclassman/ senior student) would tell me repeatedly is to prioritize things! I recommend doing so too, as once you get used to things, you will be able to find your own style of tackling them, which also makes it easier to pursue your studies.

I made this jiyuka, a free style of ikebana, in my flower arrangement class, which was one of my favorites.

The highlight of this particular flower is the way I used the vine.

Students in either APS or APM can take a flower arrangement class from their second year onward. Ms. FUJIWAWA Mitsuki, who teaches the class, studied Japan’s oldest school of ikebana, called ikenobo. I therefore recommend this class to international students who want a firm grounding in Japanese culture as well as to domestic students!

2. You can make a hundred friends, even more!

I recall how I was anxious about whether I could make any friends before I entered APU. I want to tell you that you have nothing to worry about. I guarantee that you will be able to make friends. Because everyone at APU is so outgoing, I think that it’s an environment conducive to making friends. Still, let me give you a special tip on how to make foreign friends, which some of you might think is a difficult task. What I always do is ask the person I’m talking to what country they are from and try saying something in the language of that country, whether a number, a form of greetings, anything! That leads the other person to ask, “How do you know that,” which opens the door to becoming friendly with them. Even if you don’t know any words in that language, you can achieve the same effect by candidly asking them “How do you say such-and-such in your native language?” In fact, I got on good terms with one of my Korean friends by asking her “How do you say ‘boyfriend’ in Korean?”

If you’ve already managed to get on good terms online in advance, then you really have nothing to be frightened of!

This poster that we made in my circle is a visualization of everyone’s “dream!” It still fills me with energy even when I look at it now.

AUA, a circle I belonged to until last year, creates exchange both on and off campus based on its philosophy of “connect the world.” I, too, have met many friends and senpai by joining circles. Try becoming a part of circles and student groups as a way of making friends! If you’re interested, take a look at AUA’s official website below.

AUA Official Website: http://apu-united-ambassadors.com

3. A tip for making sure you end up with no regrets

It is important that you always “keep your eyes and ears open.”

APU is a hub of information, which makes it a hub of opportunities. However, nearly all of those opportunities have a time limit attached to them, meaning that if you don’t go and seize them, they’ll be gone. That is precisely why at APU, it is essential that you constantly be on the lookout for information and gather it yourself. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you make yourself perpetually sensitive to information so that you end up with no regrets, not even one!

Another secret tip that I want to stress is to “reach out to your senpai!”

If there’s something that worries or bothers you, your senpai are sure to help you out. I am no exception, as I ask my senpai for advice right away with something worries me.

You can start by using the Campus Terminal obsessively! I certainly have since entering APU!

Campus Terminal URL: https://portal2.apu.ac.jp/campusp/top.do

“Keeping your eyes and ears open” is not that hard. Think of it as looking out a window.

<In closing>

As new students at APU, you will be starting your new life in Beppu soon. When I did, I was anxious too, worried about things like what I should bring and what I would do if I wasn’t prepared enough. Take comfort in the fact that except for things that you feel a strong need to bring, you can more or less buy anything in Beppu, so you don’t have to bring anything. So, there’s no need to be anxious about such things. If you find that you are nonetheless, don’t waste any time in reaching out to your senpai!

A view of the sun setting beautifully from AP House. If you’re tired, take a break! That’s what I say!

SPA student staff take turns writing this column in the hope that readers will be able to develop a greater understanding of and appreciation for APU even with the existing restrictions on movement due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.